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April 7, 2013

Acme board to consider supervisor's wife as township clerk

TRAVERSE CITY — Acme Township board members will choose from among six candidates to serve as township clerk, including Supervisor Jay Zollinger’s wife.

Sharma Zollinger served three township clerks as their deputy over a 10-year span. Recently elected Clerk Christine Bassett resigned for personal reasons on March 19, and the board asked Sharma Zollinger to temporarily take over the clerk’s duties and $37,000 annual salary.

The position was posted as open and board members decided at their April 2 meeting to interview six candidates, including Sharma Zollinger, on April 9 beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the township hall.

Jay Zollinger won’t participate in the interviews and said he’d rather his wife didn’t end up with the job.

“The public doesn’t like it,” Jay Zollinger said. “And it’s not an easy thing for people to serve on a board together, though I know some people do it.”

Sharma Zollinger said she understands her husband’s concerns, but she knows how to do the job and wouldn’t mind being the new clerk.

“Some people would not be very comfortable with a husband and wife in elected positions in the same township,” Sharma Zollinger said. “But I think as long as they both do the job ... and make sound decisions for the people in the township, so why should it matter that it be husband and wife.”

A husband and wife previously served together in the township, and East Bay Township features a husband and wife on the board: Clerk Sue Courtade and Trustee Matt Courtade. Both Courtades were elected to their respective offices.

Board members will meet April 10 at 6:30 p.m. to make a selection. The appointee will serve until the November 2014 general election.

In a separate matter, board members decided on April 2 that they won’t buy a burned out real estate office at the corner of M-72 and U.S. 31 because of environmental concerns. The township considered the property as an alternative entrance to its shoreline park property.

Board rejected the proposal because the access would have to cross wetlands and an environmental assessment found evidence of old gasoline contaminants on the property, Jay Zollinger said. The property was used for a gas station at one time, he said.

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